Belfast Telegraph

Jimmy Callacher crowned Ulster Footballer of the Year as defenders complete hat-trick of awards

Linfield defender Jimmy Callacher.
Linfield defender Jimmy Callacher.
Gareth Hanna

By Gareth Hanna

Linfield defender Jimmy Callacher has been named Ulster Footballer of the Year as centre-halves scooped three of the top awards on offer.

The 27-year-old had been the favourite to win the accolade after a stunning year at the heart of Linfield's rock-solid defence.

Callacher played all but two of the Blues' games during their title-winning Danske Bank Premiership campaign, helping to keep 20 clean sheets in his 36 matches. He was also a key part of the side that lifted the League Cup trophy in February.

At the other end, the former Glentoran man contributed nine goals for his most prolific season to date, including a hat-trick in a 3-1 win over Newry City at Windsor Park back in October.

There were also defensive winners of both the Young Player and Women's Player of the Year awards.

Glenavon defender Caolan Marron was crowned Young Player of the Year. The 20-year-old started 33 of his side's 38 Premiership games, helping to keep nine clean sheets including two against champions Linfield. Marron was one of the reasons Gary Hamilton's side reached a club record points tally of 70 for the season and his displays have led to a series of professional clubs keeping track of his displays, including an unnamed English Premier League side.

Caolan Marron

The Women's Player of the Year is Cliftonville defender Billie Simpson. The Northern Ireland international helped her team to a third place finish in the Danske Bank Women's Premiership and hit the headlines when she scored a breath-taking volley from inside her own half against Sion Swifts.

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She even told us that she meant every bit of it - as if there was any doubt.

It was a double for the Reds when former club chairman and FIFA vice-president Jim Boyce was awarded the Malcolm Brodie Lifetime Achievement Award. Boyce was the Irish FA President from 1995 to 2007 and became FIFA vice-president in 2011. He was awarded an OBE for services to football in the 2015 New Year Honours.

Larne forward Martin Donnelly won the Championship Player of the Year accolade after scoring 24 goals for the runaway league champions. Only team-mate David McDaid scored more in the division, bagging 27. Having missed out on the golden boot, at least Donnelly has evened up the individual award battle with his strike partner.

Belfast Trailblazers star Scott Hilland was named Disability Footballer of the Year after a fine season for his club and for Northern Ireland's Powerchair squad, who played at the European championships for the first time.

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